This report is for media and the general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The SMM, based on its monitoring – which was restricted by third parties and by security considerations* – observed that fighting continued in areas around the Donetsk airport and Shyrokyne in the Donetsk region, and in areas to the north and north-west of Luhansk city.
In “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Petrovskyi district* (17km west-south-west of Donetsk city-centre), the SMM met local residents, who explained that they and up to 200 other local people – mostly middle-aged women but including 23 minors – have been living in a basement since August 2014.
At a checkpoint manned by Ukrainian volunteer battalion soldiers in government-controlled Pervomaiske (15km north-west of Donetsk), a soldier verbally abused the SMM.
Stationary in the vicinity of the destroyed “DPR”-controlled Donetsk airport* (8km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard the distant sound of four explosions between 10:05 and 10:18hrs, and an additional explosion at 10:55hrs, followed almost immediately by a burst of heavy machine gun or light artillery, all emanating from locations to the north-west.
From positions in Donetsk city-centre throughout the day, the SMM heard three different instances of shelling thought to have come from the area in and around the airport to the north-west: a single explosion at a distance of approximately ten kilometres; 70 incoming and outgoing mortar, artillery and tank rounds; and, three powerful explosions. What was assessed to have been an out-going artillery round was also heard whilst at a position four kilometres south-west of the city-centre, assessed to have emanated from a location two kilometres further south-west.
In government-controlled Avdiivka (14km north-north-west of Donetsk), the SMM heard the sound of 17 out-going 125mm tank rounds from “DPR”-controlled Spartak, seven kilometres to the south-south-east.
Positioned 3.5 kilometres west of “DPR”-controlled Shyrokyne (16km east of Mariupol), the SMM heard what it assessed to be 15 mortar rounds impacting in Shyrokyne. At another location 4.5 kilometres north-west of Shyrokyne, the SMM heard in the space of five minutes the sound of what it assessed to have been approximately 22 medium and high calibre rounds impacting in the village. Later, over an hour, the SMM heard approximately 70 outgoing 82mm and 120mm mortar shells, fired from locations east, south and south-east of its position, and impacting in and around Shyrokyne village. From the same position, the SMM subsequently heard more shelling, possibly coming from 128mm multiple rocket launchers. Persistent 12.7mm machine-gun fire and some tank fire, and sporadic small-arms fire were audible throughout the day. A grenade – fired from an automatic grenade launcher – impacting less than 100 metres away – and subsequently ten incoming mortar shells – impacting between 300 metres and one kilometre from its position – eventually forced the SMM to leave the area.
In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Dovhe (23km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two artillery rounds thought to have been fired from a location seven kilometres to the east. In government-controlled Shchastya (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard the sound of 17 distant artillery explosions and machine-gun fire from a location to the south-east. In government-controlled Putylyne (44km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard outgoing rounds fired from what it assessed to be a 30mm automatic grenade launcher.
The SMM re-visited* two “DPR” holding areas for withdrawn heavy weapons. Checking against previously recorded serial numbers, the SMM noted that all weapons previously observed at one depot were in situ, but two 122mm artillery pieces – previously observed – were missing from the second location. The SMM re-visited three Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, and confirmed that all weapons previously recorded there were in situ. The SMM visited an “LPR” weapons storage site. All six locations visited comply with respective withdrawal lines.
The SMM during the reporting period, however, observed the continued presence of heavy weapons in both the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In government-controlled areas around Shyrokyne, the SMM observed three tanks and three anti-tank guns. Close to “DPR”-controlled Novoazovsk (43km east of Mariupol), the SMM observed a tank moving east. Around government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw five tanks and a self-propelled howitzer. Near government-controlled Orikhove (56km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw an additional two tanks, and Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers digging trenches.
Following up on media reports, the SMM spoke to district police in Osnova (10km south-west of Kharkiv), who said that an explosion had occurred on rail tracks ten kilometres north-east of the town at 03:00hrs in the morning. According to the police, tracks and two cargo carriages were damaged, but there were no injuries.
Following media reports about the seizure of weapons in Khmelnytskyi (143km north-north-east of Chernivtsi), the SMM contacted the regional police in the town, who confirmed that two man-portable, anti-tank grenade launchers, four grenades and 35 9mm rounds had been found in the possession of a 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier on 24 March. A subsequent search of the suspect’s apartment uncovered an additional 336 rounds, two grenades and two bayonets for Kalashnikov assault rifles. The police told the SMM that the weapons originated from the conflict zone in the east, and that the suspect – acting alone – had intended to sell them in the Sumy region of Ukraine. He has been charged under Article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (part 1) – “illegal possession of weapons, ammunition or explosives”.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.
- Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.
The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere. For this reason, the SMM requires security guarantees from the “DPR” and “LPR” which are not always provided. Where such guarantees are limited to escorted movements, and escorts are not provided for all planned patrols or are delayed, this also represents a restriction of SMM freedom of movement. During the reporting period, for two patrols, the SMM was escorted by the “DPR”.
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